Middle East

10 rebels killed in northeast Syria, clashes in capital: activists

A handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA on January 26, 2013 show forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after clashes with fighters of the Free Syrian Army, in Darya near Damascus. REUTERS/Sana

BEIRUT: Ten rebels were killed in combat with government forces in Hasakeh, a majority-Kurdish city in northeast Syria, while fighting raged in a Damascus district on Monday, activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting in Hasakeh occurred at the Al-Ghazal roundabout late on Sunday, but gave no further details.

Hasakeh is the capital of a province of the same name that has seen fighting between a complex array of rival forces, including between rebels and the army, between Kurdish popular committees and Islamist rebels on the Turkish border, and between Kurdish militiamen and regime forces.

Syria's Kurds are divided over the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Some support the regime, others back the revolt, and still others seek to remain neutral.

While some activists fear Turkey is using jihadists to fight its own battle against the Kurds, others accuse Syria's largest ethnic minority of striking a deal with the regime to secure the withdrawal of troops from their areas.

Fighting meanwhile broke out Monday morning between Syrian troops and rebels in the Qadam district in southern Damascus, while the army bombed rebel positions in the area, the Observatory said.

The Local Coordination Committees, a grassroots network of opposition activists, reported that shabiha, or pro-regime militiaman, were carrying out raids in the district.

The fighting and crackdown came after a night of army shelling on Qadam and neighbouring Assali district, said the Observatory, which compiles its reports from activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals on the ground.

The embattled towns of Daraya and Moadamiyet al-Sham, located southwest of the capital near the strategic Mazzeh military airbase, also witnessed clashes after troops bombarded rebel positions there.

Regime forces also shelled opposition strongholds to the northeast of Damascus, and in the southern province of Daraa, the central provinces of Hama and Homs, and the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the activists said.





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